UC Berkeley community desires more diverse businesses, increased safety in Telegraph, Downtown Berkeley areas

In an effort to increase student involvement in city of Berkeley affairs, the ASUC and Graduate Assembly released findings Thursday of a survey showing that UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff would like to see a more diverse business community and heightened security along Telegraph Avenue and in Downtown Berkeley.

The primary goal of the survey — conducted last spring — was to determine how often students, faculty and staff visit the Telegraph and Downtown areas. Furthermore, the survey sought to suggest improvements that would increase patronage to these areas.

About 90 percent of the 1,850 respondents were students.

“We really wanted to foster a dialogue between the campus and the city so that students could express their opinions,” said Clara Botstein, legislative director for City and Community Affairs for the Graduate Assembly and author of the report outlining the findings.

According to the report, the campus community prefers shopping in Emeryville and San Francisco, with a majority of respondents saying that they infrequently visit the Downtown and Telegraph areas for nightlife and entertainment. However, dining options in the two areas are popular among respondents, a majority of whom said they eat there on a weekly or monthly basis.

Overall, respondents said they would likely frequent the areas more for their shopping needs if a larger variety of stores was present. The report suggests the additions of an accessible and affordable grocery store, a wine shop, a school supplies store, a home appliance store, a high-end clothing store and a sporting goods store in the two areas.

Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who was a partner in the survey, said the city will closely consider the recommendations and make the appropriate adjustments to the city’s zoning and permitting procedures with the ultimate goal of making Berkeley more business-friendly.

“Right now we have a very complicated process in place, and we can look to change that,” Wozniak said.

The survey also underscored a strong desire for increased safety around the UC Berkeley campus. Of the respondents, 75 percent “strongly agreed” or “agreed” they would visit Telegraph more often if it were “cleaner and more inviting.”

Improving street lighting, encouraging neighborhood watch groups, increasing the number of outreach workers and expanding collaboration between the Berkeley Police Department and the UCPD are some of the ways to foster an improved sense of security, according to the report.

In the coming months, the Graduate Assembly and ASUC will continue working together to address the problems found by the survey.

“We will be creating a joint local affairs working group with representation from the ASUC, GA, campus, and city to closely … implement recommendations,” said Joey Freeman, external affairs vice president for the ASUC, in an email. “Using the survey as a foundation, the group will also engage in other work that while not explicitly mentioned in the survey, would have a positive impact for the student experience in Berkeley.”